Monthly Archives: January 2012

Still doubting that: ‘marketing is everything and everything is marketing’…?

Globe and Mail cartoon

This is about as fitting as it comes. If you weren’t scared about what the former “Reform Party” of Canada is capable of… well… just sit back and watch the show.

On Thursday or so, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland our fine PM lectured the rest of the world on how great Canada is and what everyone else should be doing.

Essentially… shame, shame double shame on all you other countries for taking on such big debt loads. Look at us in Canada… look how great we are…

Exactly as the cartoon depicts, there was a time when Canada was known as a humble, peace-keeping, so-sorry-I-ran-into-you kind of country — not a dirty, oil producing, mining-heavy, fighter jet purchasing nation making side deals with shady countries with shady human rights records then taunting the rest of the world with a holier-than-thou attitude.

Sure, some of that went on (e.g. shady side deals), however, now it seems we’re [through our current fine ruling party] just rubbing the world’s face in it. It’s now the Conservative “brand” of the “Harper Government”… in nice shades of blue, with red highlights…

One of the things about running around rubbing people’s faces in economic pie touting a holier-than-thou-attitude-filling and frosting — as our fine PM seems to be doing in Europe — is it very well may, or will, come back and bite you in the ass, in a real nasty way.

Say for example, when Canada needs a bail out package to pay for the most recent proposed Harper Tough-on-Crime bill — in a country where crime rates are steadily declining… (gee that makes sense). (CBC: Crime rate falls to lowest level since 1973 ;

Canada’s crime rate is the lowest in nearly 40 years, according to Statistics Canada, as the volume of crime dropped five per cent in 2010 from the year before.

“The national crime rate has been falling steadily for the past 20 years and is now at its lowest level since 1973,” Statistics Canada reported.

[Globe and Mail just the other day:Canadians finally getting it: crime is on the decline ]

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Unfortunately, for Canadians that bite in the ass may not be possible until the next election, and yet within our sad system we have the Official (her Majesty’s) Opposition dragging its feet along in electing a new leader and dropping like the world’s stock markets in the polls, as well as another major party flailing around with interim leaders and so on.

[not that the "party" system is doing us much...]

And if you doubt that ‘marketing is everything and everything is marketing’ then just keep an eye on the ongoing show of PR gaffs coming out of Ottawa.

[The only reason they're gaffs, is because that 'pesky' Freedom of Information thingy keeps catching them]

The latest (which is right in line with the position recently taken by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (See Joe at CFIA suggests: “It is clear that we are turning the PR tide to our favour… and we will win the war, also.” in issues surrounding farmed salmon) — is labeling First Nations in Canada, as well as people concerned about their natural environment (who isn’t?) as: ADVERSARIES.

This in relation to the tar sands development and pipelines — like the proposed  Enbridge Northern ‘Exit-way’ Pipeline through north-central BC:

Feds list First Nations, green groups as oilsands ‘adversaries’

OTTAWA — The federal government is distancing itself from its own lobbying and public relations campaign to polish the image of Alberta’s oilsands, following revelations that an internal strategy document labelled First Nations and environmentalists as “adversaries,” while describing the National Energy Board, an independent industry regulator, as an “ally.”

The descriptions were highlighted in a March 2011 document from the government’s “pan-European oilsands advocacy strategy,” released through access to information legislation.

The document outlined the government’s goals to “target” European politicians — “especially from the ruling and influential parties” — to lobby against climate-change policies that would require oilsands producers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming.

The strategy also listed key goals for the government’s diplomats in promoting the oilsands industry — considered by Environment Canada to be the fastest-growing source of global-warming-causing emissions in the country — and in lobbying against foreign climate-change policies…

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AND from the Globe and Mail:

Federal documents spark outcry by oil sands critics

Critics are attacking Ottawa’s energy strategy after internal documents shed new light on the extent of federal efforts to advocate for the oil sands industry.

The documents, obtained through an access to information request and released by Greenpeace Canada, are a draft diplomatic strategy outlining ways to shape European perceptions of Canada’s oil sands. They show that the government’s messages are intended to shift attitudes in media and among top decision makers regarding the oil sands industry, which faces a possible effective import ban in Europe as the continent pursues a low-carbon fuel strategy.

In the document, environmental organizations and aboriginal groups are shown as “adversaries.” Industry associations, energy companies and the National Energy Board – which is supposed to serve as an independent body evaluating new projects – are listed as “allies.”

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The definition and etymology of “adversary” is clear…

1. An opponent; an enemy.
2. The Devil; Satan. Often used with the.
[Middle English adversarie, from Latin adversarius, enemy]

Hmmmm… that second definition of “adversary” seems to run pretty close to the roots of the good old “Reform Party of Canada” — the birthplace of Mr. Harper as a politician.

(Remember: Reeee…fooorrmmm! in Mr. Manning’s neighborhood….)

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Another cartoon from the Globe seems to capture the current sentiment alive and well in the highest offices of the country…

From Globe and Mail

Marketing is everything and everything is marketing.

This is most certainly a strategy adopted by the current governing regime in Canada. They may not win the support and hearts of the voter, but they sure as hell are winning the PR battles and marketing campaigns and branding campaigns.

[e.g. ‘the war’ against all these ‘adversaries’ and ‘radicals’ that are simply standing up and saying “N….O” to being force fed a job exporting, pollutant exporting, risk-taking, only-a-matter-of-time-till-a-spill… ing… proposal]

And sadly, now the politics in Canada are going the route of the circus politics to the south of us. Polarized and nasty and silly and childish and… and… [Gee, Mr. Harper where’s your: colony on the moon proposal, like Mr. Astro-Gingrich president-hopeful to the south]

A fitting quote from the early 1800s, found it at the online etymology dictionary under ‘politics’:

Politicks is the science of good sense, applied to public affairs, and, as those are forever changing, what is wisdom to-day would be folly and perhaps, ruin to-morrow. Politicks is not a science so properly as a business. It cannot have fixed principles, from which a wise man would never swerve, unless the inconstancy of men’s view of interest and the capriciousness of the tempers could be fixed.

Fisher Ames (1758–1808) – involved in ratifying US Constitution in 1788

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Enbridge proposed exit-way: the monster destroying itself

Enbridge Northern Gate/ Exit-way III -- "The capitalist monster consuming itself..."

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This illustration came about following my reading of physicist as well as author, business thinker, and philosopher Danah Zohar. She has written several books relating quantum physics to the world of business and society in general.

Quantum physics is a fascinating study of the world at a level that begins to boggle the human mind:

Quantum physics is a branch of science that deals with discrete, indivisible units of energy called quanta as described by the Quantum Theory. There are five main ideas represented in Quantum Theory:

  1. Energy is not continuous, but comes in small but discrete units. [hmmm, sounds like wild salmon...]
  2. The elementary particles behave both like particles and like waves.
  3. The movement of these particles is inherently random.
  4. It is physically impossible to know both the position and the momentum of a particle at the same time. The more precisely one is known, the less precise the measurement of the other is.
  5. The atomic world is nothing like the world we live in.

While at a glance this may seem like just another strange theory, it contains many clues as to the fundamental nature of the universe and is more important then even relativity in the grand scheme of things (if any one thing at that level could be said to be more important then anything else). Furthermore, it describes the nature of the universe as being much different then the world we see.

As Niels Bohr said, “Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it.”

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I have used the idea of particle/wave duality for many years in many contexts. Simply, if one analyzes a ray of light — say one blasting off the sun at however many millions of km/hr like the current ‘solar storm’ — one will either see light as a series of waves, or, as a collection of particles.

It all depends on what they are looking for, and how they are conducting the test.

At any time light can display properties of waves, or of particles — however never at the same time. Therefore, distinguished scientists could argue until the end of time that their empirical tests show, without a doubt, that light is waves. They could publish peer reviewed articles, books, white papers, memos, briefs, and even assist in drafting legislation to create an international “Day of the light wave”…

And, yet, another group of scientists could also argue until the end of time that light is particles. Proclaiming that all instruments to measure light as waves must be abolished, burned at the stake, heresy, and we must never speak of light as waves again…

And, yet, neither would be wrong (at least about the wave/particle duality) — the kicker is that they might actually have to get together, drop their assumptions and come to understand the others’ perspectives and realize that light is both wave and particle. This is the duality of light… and… probably many other things.

Now one could make this even that much more mind boggling by adding in Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. Simply, one can never know the exact position and speed of a particle at the same time — referring to #4 above. (this includes particles that at a fundamental level make up our human bodies).

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Ms. Zohar has a post on her blog which quotes one of her books:

Changing capitalism from within

In 2004, in my book Spiritual Capital, I wrote:

Our capitalist culture and the business practices that operate within it are in crisis. Capitalism as we know it today—an amoral culture of short-term self-interest, profit maximization, emphasis on shareholder value, isolationist thinking, and profligate disregard of long-term consequences—is an unsustainable system, a monster set to destroy itself.

I did not expect my prophesy to come true so quickly, but our current financial and economic meltdown demonstrates the truth of what I said. Capitalism is, indeed, in crisis, and the monster has destroyed itself. But now the question facing all the world’s leaders is, what can replace it? On the answer depends not just the soundness of our economic system, but the sustainability of advanced human culture itself.

The answer to the present crisis being suggested by virtually everyone is more regulation of the markets and of the business practices used within them. But a few extra regulations won’t bring about the change that we need. We’ve tried Keynesian economics and socialism in the past, and we know that both dampen down the creativity and output of the markets. As both George Soros and I have pointed out, our global capitalist system is a self-organizing system poised at the edge of chaos. When such systems are exposed to outside control, they seize up.

No, to change capitalism in a way that sustains the freedom and creativity of the markets, capitalism must change itself, from the inside. This kind of change will require a radically new leadership ethic, one driven by a new set of motivations and a broader understanding of wealth.

Capitalism as we know it has been driven by the lower motivations of greed and self-interest. Business leaders have been out for themselves, and their own drive to increase their personal and corporate material wealth. Nothing good can ever come from actions driven by negative motivations. They only evoke and reinforce other negative motivations, in this case fear and anger.

Customers, consumers, home owners, and the capitalists themselves are filled with fear today, and all but the capitalists are angry that the present situation has been allowed to happen. Those capitalists with any conscience are now filled with still deeper negative motivations of guilt and shame.

The only thing that can change behaviour driven by negative motivations is behaviour driven by higher, positive motivations—exploration, cooperation, personal and situational mastery, generativity and higher service. Business leaders must become servant leaders, leaders who serve not just themselves and share holders, but leaders who serve employees, customers, the community, the planet, humanity, future generations, and life itself. This new leadership ethic will require a revolution.

Not a revolution with guns and bullets [think of recent US imperialist invasions, and Iran's threats in Middle East to block oil routes], and, God forbid, not a regulatory revolution, but a revolution in thought, and a consequent revolution in moral behaviour. Business must become a vocation, like the higher professions, and capitalists’ sense of wealth creation must expand to include spiritual capital—wealth accrued by acting on our highest aspirations and deepest values.

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Now some may jump on the: “well that’s a bunch of fru-fru, hairy-fairy, bumpf…”-Train.

Fair enough.

However, it’s hard to look at the proposed Enbridge Northern exit-way pipeline and see how this makes much sense. And at the same time it’s quite reassuring to see  regular BC residents stepping up and saying “NO”. In all of the hearings thus far being conducted by the National Energy Board in various BC communities. The sentiment has been “NO” to the proposal.

As Zohar describes: Capitalism as we know it today—an amoral culture of short-term self-interest, profit maximization, emphasis on shareholder value, isolationist thinking, and profligate disregard of long-term consequences—is an unsustainable system, a monster set to destroy itself.

Hard to disagree with that thought… especially when one starts to think of the dangers posed by having a pipeline and tanker traffic (over 200 super-oiltankers a year on BC’s north coast)… simply to export raw bitumen to China. Even to a hardcore capitalist, it can’t make sense to be sending away an immensely valuable product, unrefined. Where’s the value-added in that?

Time for a change?

What does that look like, feel like, and sound like…?

And smell like? As the residents in Abbotsford would suggest after the oil spill there yesterday from Kinder Morgan’s pipeline.

Proposed Northern Exit-gateway Pipeline: Accidents happen because of human error… and are not averted due to elaborate statistical analyses…

 

Enbridge Northern Exit-way II

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How does this make any sense #2?

National Energy Board hearings into the proposed Enbridge Northern Gate/Exit-way Pipeline continue today in Smithers, BC.

One has to wonder if President of this proposed Enbridge project — John Carruthers — is carrying on today in Smithers, like he did in Kitimat about the incredibly elaborate statistical calculations done by Enbridge around tanker accidents. He was touting a number on the radio the other day of odds of: 1 in 15,000 years.

Wonder what the odds were of this?:

Concordia cruise ship accident– Globe and Mail

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Globe and Mail photo…. I don’t think that rock is supposed to be there…

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how would this look in Douglas Channel? if that was one of the 220 oil super-tankers per year proposed for transporting raw oil bitumen (and jobs) to China

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Or the good ‘ol Queen of the North sinking not far from where oil super tankers would run…

BC Ministry of Environment survey fuel spill from sunken Queen of the North on Gil Island, BC coast

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No matter how elaborate the “guarantees” get from Enbridge and proponents; there is no way to calculate human error accurately.

Is it really worth it? Exporting all those jobs to Asia, exporting energy resources that we may very well need ourselves? (as we already import 55% of what we use in Canada)

It makes no sense, and hence why the opposition grows — including major trade unions, municipalities, and so on… (all those “radicals” as Mr. Harper and his buddies like to call them)…

Human errors is a heck-uv-a-thing…

Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline (proposed) — How does this make sense #1?

Enbridge Northern Gateway I (madness, hypocrisy, shameful)

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With interventions this week by the Harper Government into the National Energy Board’s hearings into the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline — it becomes clearer that Mr. Harper, and some of his buddies, might be little more than paranoid little boys — as well as complete hypocrites.

(or working the gears of a marketing machine — remember: marketing is everything and everything is marketing)

The federal Natural Resource Minister came out this past week suggesting that U.S. money flowing into Canadian enviro (and other) groups would not be tolerated and a threat to Canadian sovereignty, bla, bla, bla…

The current Conservative government also basically suggested that the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline would go through regardless; that it would be constructed; and that raw bitumen from Canada’s tar sands would be exported to Asia –

particularly China… which, curiously has invested some $15-20 Billion in the tar sands in recent times as well as significant Chinese interests and $ billions into Enbridge and this proposal.

Without even commenting on the absolute absurdity of making comments such as these at the beginning of a multi-year process of hearing what people have to say about the “proposed” pipeline…

Wondering where the apparent threats to sovereignty may actually be coming from?

And, as the illustration above portrays, WHY?

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Why are we looking to export raw bitumen to Asia when we already import over 55% of the oil consumed in Canada. That means that Canadians are paying for refined oil products to come to Canada from places like Venezuela, Algeria, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Norway, etc. (and yet these “ethical oil” bubbleheads keep singing their tune)

Crazier yet, over 65% of the oil produced in Canada gets shipped-exported south to the U.S.  through some 15,000 km of pipeline.

Even crazier… we are largely locked into this through the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)… once the taps are on, you can’t turn them off.

(so really Mr. Harper where are the boogey men, the threats to Canadian sovereignty…?

oh right… maybe in your Conservative predecessors that signed off on NAFTA… hmmmm)

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And now, Harper and Enbridge and others (e.g. BC’s current government) want to ship the unrefined, unprocessed raw bitumen across western Alberta, through the Rockies, through north-eastern, north-central, and northwestern BC, to Kitimat on the BC coast to be loaded onto over 200 supertankers a year and then ply BC’s coastal waters, the North Pacific, over to Asia.

If the tar sands are going to continue to operate — then why don’t we look after our own oil needs first?

Without even commenting on all the other threats posed by this project… How about a National Energy Plan (even Alberta’s current premier is suggesting the same) — before exporting one of the most valuable resources on the planet? (and risking some 1000+ rivers and streams in BC and Alberta and BC’s north coast)

And exporting jobs — isn’t everything about these right-leaning regimes about jobs, jobs, jobs…?

How does this make any sense?

Maslow’s salmon? how do they self actualize?

Maslow's salmon research?

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[Click on image to see full size...]

Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline proposal is all about satisfying (some) people’s need for $$$$ (and oil) and overcoming adversity, bla, bla, bla…

Who speaks for the salmon? How do they self actualize?

Who looks out for their ‘safety’, their ‘physiological’ needs?

(let me guess… pipeline building and operation “best practices”… good ‘ol “we don’t do it like that anymore…”)

 

Once upon a wild salmon…history’s a bitch.

Oregon salmon cannery early 1900s -- Oregon State University archives

 

Randomly came across these photos from the early 1900s. This is “salmon management” at its best. This is what “salmon management” of the day is built upon. This is what “fisheries management” is built upon.

Fish first, manage later… (look no further then the current herring fisheries opening in the Salish Sea, or the soon to be opened sport fisheries on early-timed Fraser Chinook).

Oregon salmon canneries -- early 1900s -- oh the Chinook?

And where did these beauties go?

Was there not a time in British Columbia when the Springs, the Smilies, the Chinook, the Kings… would line up like this?

Ever study economics?

Ever hear of the concept of ‘the law of diminishing returns’?

Here’s a brief little quote from Wikipedia:

The law of diminishing returns (also law of diminishing marginal returns or law of increasing relative cost) states that in all productive processes, adding more of one factor of production, while holding all others constant, will at some point yield lower per-unit returns.The law of diminishing returns does not imply that adding more of a factor will decrease the total production, a condition known as negative returns, though in fact this is common.

For example, the use of fertilizer improves crop production on farms and in gardens; but at some point, adding more and more fertilizer improves the yield less per unit of fertilizer, and excessive quantities can even reduce the yield. A common sort of example is adding more workers to a job, such as assembling a car on a factory floor. At some point, adding more workers causes problems such as getting in each other’s way, or workers frequently find themselves waiting for access to a part.

In all of these processes, producing one more unit of output per unit of time will eventually cost increasingly more, due to inputs being used less and less effectively. [key point]

The law of diminishing returns is a fundamental principle of economics…

It’s also a fundamental concept within “fisheries” management that they don’t seem to teach at the leading “fisheries” science institutions…

If you keep catching all the ‘hogs’ — the big ones — then eventually there’s going to be little left but small ones…then no ones…

Same thing happened with North Atlantic Cod prior to the big collapse. All the big ones started disappearing and sizes became smaller and smaller and more uniform… diminishing genetic diversity.

Unfortunately, good ‘ol Darwin and his ‘survival of the fittest‘ doesn’t apply when a salmon has no choice about what gill net, seine net, sport hook, or other fishing method catches it. Nor, the obsession of the current human to catch the ‘biggest’ fish…

It did apply though when there was little human intervention… bigger fish, better survival often times, eggs buried deeper in gravel, and so on… more bigger fish, more diversity.

Oregon wild salmon seining -- early 1900s -- Oregon State University archives

Get ‘em out however possible…

these times seem to have largely gone with the days of the "iron chink"... (cannery hardware)

The point here isn’t to lament the past, necessarily — but don’t we ever learn?

Folks of the day also said that whole hog logging, placer mining, building dams, and pillaging the seas and river mouths could all ‘happily co-exist’… no problemo… let’s Just Do It (as a well known multinational company based in Portland proclaims).

Freedom, free enterprise, market economies, maximum sustainable yield… let’s do it.

Is this really all that different then what Justice Cohen just heard for two years at the Cohen Commission into the Fraser River sockeye declines?

Or how about the five previous “commissions” prior to that…?

Same conclusion, most likely… we can’t really conclusively “prove” that these practices damage wild salmon… it’s death of a thousand cuts… change is too hard… don’t rock the boat… (gee whiz, I retire with full government pension in five years, don’t hang me out to dry here…)

And, well… you probably know the rest of the story…

As if DFO’s disasterly ‘management’ of North Atlantic Cod and Pacific salmon and… and… weren’t bad enough

Herring spawn along Alaska coastline -- Bristol Bay

An article running in the Vancouver Sun, and a vitally important fishery-fish issue:

Winter fishery may put inshore herring stocks at risk: scientists

“DFO recognizes that there are ‘resident herring’ that remain in the Strait of Georgia stock assessment area throughout the year, but scientific evidence does not support the notion that these are separate stocks,” DFO scientists wrote in an email interview. “A number of tagging and genetic research studies examining herring stock structure do not provide evidence to support the existence of a local resident herring population in the Strait of Georgia.”

But not all scientists agree.

University of British Columbia fisheries scientist Tony Pitcher said that B.C.’s bays and inlets were once home to unique inshore herring stocks that returned to spawn in the same places year after year, in much the same way that salmon return to the spawning grounds on which they were born.

“Local herring stocks aren’t exactly resident, but they are quasi-resident, because they joined the big migratory stock for summer feeding but returned in the winter to their spawning areas and stay there through the winter and spring,” said Pitcher.

Where commercial fishing has damaged inshore herring stocks, recovery has been slow and in some cases the fish have never returned.

“It looks like the Skidegate stock has never come back, despite efforts to try to protect it,” Pitcher said.

First nations up and down the coast are convinced that past mismanagement of the herring fishery has resulted in the extinction of local resident stocks that used to support their ancient marine economy.

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So where is the burden of proof supposed to be in these types of issues?

DFO purports to be about “conservation” first.

As well as operating under the ‘precautionary principle’ — so if there’s doubt on this issue then why open herring fisheries?

So, why take the risk?

Aren’t herring one of those crucial components of the food chain? — e.g. for endangered Fraser and East Coast Vancouver Is. Chinook salmon, which in turn are an essential food source for endangered resident Orcas in the Salish Sea (Georgia Strait). (Cull the endangered Orcas?)

How does this make sense?

Simply because some ‘scientists’ at DFO have decided there’s not enough information to label these ‘resident’ stocks — they they are fair game for fisheries?

Where’s the sense in this?

Is this not a ministry that needs a fundamental overall? Should there not be a process similar to the many calls for change, and actual change occurring within the RCMP — for example, independent reviews by citizens?

There is a fundamental problem when the same ministry that opens fisheries for commercial economic benefit is also fundamentally responsible for ‘conserving’ fish stocks.

The simple definition of ‘conservation’ and ‘preservation’ do not jive with the act of removing indigenous organisms from ecosystems — especially organisms as crucial to the food chain as herring.

Time for a fundamental overall… as opposed to these expensive judicial/public inquiries and endless court cases against a ministry that is broken, lost, and flailing.